It’s Mating Season, Which Means Bears Are Beating The Crap Out Of Each Other

When love is in the air among bears, it’s not exactly lovely. This is the time of year when male bears beat the crap out of each other, because it's mating season. That means bears in Wyoming and all over are fighting for access to females.

Mark Heinz

June 15, 20244 min read

Bear fight 6 15 24
(Getty Images)

When love is in the air among bears, it’s not exactly lovely.

Spring and early summer mating seasons for Wyoming’s grizzlies and black bears can get downright violent as males fight for access to females.

It’s the same story with bears up north and everywhere else they live.

Hugely popular Canadian outdoorsman Jim Shockey recently posted a video of two large male black bears viciously beating the crap out of each other in the Yukon. They’re going at it right in the middle of a road.

One bear finally gains dominance and pushes his opponent back down the dirt road on which Shockey shot the video.

Shockey dubbed the video with riffs from the 1982 hit song “The Eye of the Tiger” by the rock band Survivor, which was a hit from the soundtrack of “Rocky III.”

That gives the video a somewhat humorous edge, but there’s nothing funny about it when male bears, called boars, go after each other in bouts for mating season dominance, access to the best food or claiming their territory.

Though the fights are rarely to the death, they frequently leave opponents with scars. Most of Wyoming’s older male bears bear such scars, some experts told Cowboy State Daily.

Indeed, one famous old grizzly that lumbered about Yellowstone country until his death in 2015 was called “Scarface.” And he likely suffered the facial disfigurement for which he was named in bear-on-bear combat.

With adult male bears weighing anywhere from 300 to 600 pounds depending on species, they pack a wallop when throwing haymakers.

A Noisy Affair

Bears in Wyoming can get every bit as brutal with each other as those in Shockey’s video from Canada.

And even when people don’t see them, sometimes they can be heard.

Avid hunter and bear conservationist Joe Kondelis of Cody told Cowboy State Daily that the black bear boar he bagged during last year’s hunting season had a torn-up nose, likely from a mating-season fight.

He said he’s heard, but never seen, such bear battles in the Wyoming backcountry, but has gotten to watch some in Canada.

Grizzly conservationist Chuck Neal of Cody agreed that the bouts can be heard from a long way off.

“These fights are usually accompanied by some very impressive roaring by the bears,” he told Cowboy State Daily.

Battle Scars

Right now is just about prime time for bears to rumble.

“Late May and early June is estrus for female bears and those males can have tussles that make UFC look like Ring around the Rosey,” Wyoming Game and Fish Department Large Carnivore Specialist Dan Thompson told Cowboy State Daily.

And Wyoming’s male bears frequently bear the hallmarks of those confrontations.

“Most adult males have years of facial and neck scars to demonstrate what it's like to battle for reproductive status, food and personal space in a high-density bear population,” Thompson said.

Neal agrees.

“These fights are so common that it is very uncommon to see dominant, or alpha male bears, without scars — typically around the face and head but often with severe wounds around the flanks as well. It would be a rare sight to see a fully mature male grizzly without scars,” Neal said.

However, the bears almost never take it to the level of killing each other, Neal said. Most battles end like the one in Shockey’s video, with one of the bears figuratively saying “uncle” and being driven off.

“The bears seldom fight to the death, however, since the bear getting the worse of the fight generally breaks off and runs away, with the victor chasing him a short distance,” Neal said.

Mark Heinz can be reached at

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Mark Heinz

Outdoors Reporter